It’s a tempting prospect: getting a special “keepsake” ultrasound of your unborn baby, so you can have a nice video and photos to cherish. Across the country, many keepsake ultrasound businesses have opened and are advertising just that. But is it safe?
No, they’re not, say the majority of obstetricians and medical professionals. An ultrasound device is a specialized piece of medical equipment that should only be utilized by a trained technician. And ultrasounds should only be used as part of prenatal care, as recommended by your obstetrician.
Untrained staff, unknown exposures
An ultrasound device emits high frequency sound waves into the body to create an image. In doing so, the device heats tissues slightly. Under a physician’s supervision, this is acceptable. Ultrasound use has been studied and proven safe for pregnant women when it’s properly utilized by a professional.
But the way these machines are used outside of a physician’s office is unknown and unregulated — and could be potentially unsafe. There’s no way to know if you or your baby are being exposed to high levels of ultrasound waves, or if the person doing the ultrasound is trained to use the equipment as recommended.
“No medical benefit”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has spoken out against keepsake ultrasounds. They state that the long-term effects of using an ultrasound without medical supervision are unknown. In addition, they say because there is no medical benefit to getting the ultrasound, the unknown risks are too great.
The American Institute for Ultrasound in Medicine agrees. They say that ultrasound technicians are trained to recognize problems with the fetus and to avoid exposing mom and baby to unnecessary high exposures of ultrasound waves. Only appropriately trained and credentialed medical professionals should perform ultrasounds, they say.
Getting your ultrasound
Fortunately, most women will still get one or more ultrasounds during their pregnancy as part of their prenatal care. You will get a good view of your baby under the care of a physician and trained technician. Most of the time, moms can get a keepsake photo or video of the event. Because you’ll receive your ultrasound with a physician’s guidance, you can be assured that it’s safe.
If you have questions about your prenatal ultrasound, talk with your obstetrician. You can have a positive and enjoyable ultrasound experience with your physician. And you won’t have any of the potential risks of unlicensed keepsake ultrasounds.
CarePoint Health Family Birth Centers
CarePoint Health is dedicated to providing you with the individual care and attention you need so you can relax and focus on what is most important — the birth of your new baby. To learn more about caring for yourself and your baby during pregnancy, view our list of upcoming classes.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.